Uknown structure

About microscopic forms of life, including Bacteria, Archea, protozoans, algae and fungi. Topics relating to viruses, viroids and prions also belong here.

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Lizardo5
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Uknown structure

Post by Lizardo5 » Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:54 pm

HI. I am currently enrolled in an intro to biology course. We have been given the following essay question, and our professor told us it is completely fine to receive help from outside sources. I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some hints or help to answering this question. Thank you!

In the year 2020, George the geologist is looking for life on Mars. He has found some small pockets of water and examined it under his light microscope. He sees clumps of small round structures that he thinks are cells. He does not know much biology, but has heard of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. He wants to know which of these 4 organisms the cells most resemble and gives the water to you for further study. Most of the cells/organisms are alive when you receive them.

You are a biochemist, so you can analyze the macromolecules that make up the cells and can perform some simple metabolic tests. You do not have access to any type of microscope.

a) Describe in detail how you will determine whether Geroge's structures are more like plant, animal, fungal or bacterial cells. Be specific and provide enough information to give George a definitive answer.

b) George did not think that his structures were viruses. Was he correct in this assumption? Indicate why or why not.

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mith
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Post by mith » Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:38 pm

1a. Look up the different structures of those 4.

b. Look up size differences between those, and we also have a thread on whether virii are alive or not in this forum(has to do with the characteristics of life).
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
~Niebuhr

Lizardo5
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Post by Lizardo5 » Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:52 pm

How can I describe the structures to him if I do not have access to a microscope? Are there certain tests that I would be able to perform to figure out exactly which structure it is?

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Post by mith » Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:32 am

You could test what kills them

So for plants, throw them into a hypotonic solution to test for turgor pressure(cell wall).

Bacteria, you could try some antibiotics.

Fungus you hope that it has some macroscopic properties like hyphae.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
~Niebuhr

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Post by dna89 » Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:28 pm

George was right. Viruses are not visible through light microscope. I'd try to grow it on an agar plate (if possible, on MH) containing antifungal agents.

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